Webinar Recap: Build Better Partnerships Inside & Outside the Nonprofit Sector with Marketing

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The power of networking cannot be overstated. A simple call, email or conversation over coffee can lead to partnerships and opportunities that could change the strategic or business trajectory of your organization forever. So what can you do to foster better partnerships for your organization?

In our August webinar, Alyssa Conrardy discussed how to build better partnerships inside and outside the nonprofit sector with Christina Allen-Crowder from Prevent Blindness Texas and Abby Robinson from Atlas Corps.

The webinar dove into commitment #8 of the Nonprofit Marketing Manifesto, which states: “We will use our brands and marketing to build partnerships and advance the broader causes we’re focused on.”

The power of networking cannot be overstated. A simple call, email or conversation over coffee can lead to partnerships and opportunities that could change the strategic or business trajectory of your organization forever. Click To Tweet

What Christina, Abby and Alyssa covered:

  • Collaboration over competition in the nonprofit sector
  • Marketing as a catalyst for building effective partnerships
  • Examples of partnership structures
  • How branding helps attract or reassure partnerships
  • What to look for in a good partnership

Webinar highlights and timestamps:

  • 11:05: Introduction to commitment #8, “We will use our brands and marketing to build partnerships and advance the broader causes we’re focused on.”
  • 13:35: What does it take to build an effective partnership?
  • 22:26: What roles do brand and marketing play in building partnerships?
  • 25:46: Q&A with Christina from Prevent Blindness Texas and Abby from Atlas Corps
  • 1:07:27: Audience Q&A
  • 1:12:49: Resources to help you go deeper

Q&A highlights:

How have your organizations’ brands improved your ability to build partnerships?

Abby: Brands inspire confidence and pique interest. We’ve been around 12 years and about five years ago we went through a rebrand. If you’ve seen our logo, it’s an upside-down world because our belief is: change your perspective, change the world. There is always a way to break [your organization] down into something simple and I think that is really what inspires. The key is just to think simple and break down how you can express this both visually, as with a logo in a very simple way, and also with the key components of what your organization does. That allows you to have those conversations of how your core components fit with the core components of a potential partner. 

Christina: Our brand is something that has actually brought us so much value, unbeknownst to us. There’s something to be said about an organization that can last for 100 years or more. That credibility, that longevity speaks for itself and sets us apart when we’re in a field with so much competition. Our brand has been able to do that for us.

What do you think corporate partners look for when choosing nonprofits to partner with?

Abby: It’s valuable to analyze and look at your organization. Start thinking about what you have to offer. Some areas that go unrecognized and can actually be appealing to corporate partners are looking at your reach. What is your social media network? What is your newsletter outreach? Are there opportunities to promote this partnership to reach [the corporate partner’s] target market? We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we can make those connections and benefit others.

What do you look for in corporate partners? 

Christina: If we find a great corporation with opportunities for multiple points of engagement, that’s doing well from a revenue perspective, and that could be a major donor for several years for us, and all of those pieces look great, but that corporation doesn’t align with our core values at Prevent Blindness Texas, that’s not a partnership we’ll pursue. Nonprofits have to resist the temptation to think that all money is good money. We want to be protective of our brand because equity, true inclusion and access for all is very core to who we are and who we serve.

What’s the #1 piece of advice you would give to another organization that wanted to strengthen its brand and marketing in order to build more impactful partnerships?

Christina: Set aside the time to dig deep, look inward and get outward-facing feedback about what your brand is and if it’s what you want it to be. That will be your roadmap for pursuing partnerships. I guarantee once you keep that as your framework, you will start to see partnerships increase and become more impactful and meaningful.

Abby: Simplify the description of what you do, how you do it and what you have to offer. Accompany this with metrics. Simplification is key to having those conversations.

What’s next?

Our next webinar, “7 Secrets to End of Year Fundraising Success,” features Noreen Castor, Former Associate Director of Development at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Former Development Officer at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. We hope to see you there!

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